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Sexual Assault and the LGBTQ Community

June is unofficially recognized as Pride month, a time to celebrate the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) communities. It is held in June to commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion in New York City on June 28, 1969, which is widely considered the birth of the modern LGBTQ movement. At the time, it was common for police to raid bars that catered to LGBTQ patrons. On that night, patrons of the Stonewall Inn fought back, igniting a wave of activism that brought nationwide visibility to the struggle for equality.

Pride is a time to celebrate. It also is a way for LGBTQ people to take a stand against discrimination and violence, and to promote dignity, equality, and increased visibility. Individuals can attend Pride events throughout the country, including here in Western Pennsylvania (such as the People’s Pride 2k19)

As we participate in Pride, it is vital to consider all aspects of the LGBTQ experience in the United States. Sexual violence is a common challenge faced by LGBTQ individuals, one that is often overlooked in the face of more sensational issues such as homophobia and transphobia. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lesbian, gay and bisexual people experience sexual violence at rates that are the same or higher than heterosexual people.

The CDC’s National Intimate Partner and sexual Violence Survey found that for lesbian, gay and bisexual people, sexual violence is far too common.

  • 44% of lesbians and 61% of bisexual women experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner.

  • 46% of bisexual women have been raped.

  • 22% of bisexual women have been raped by an intimate partner.

  • 40% of gay men and 47% of bisexual men have experienced sexual violence other than rape.

  • 26% of gay men and 37% of bisexual men experience rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner.

  • 48% of bisexual women who are rape survivors experienced their first rape between the ages of 11 and 17.

The statistics for transgender men and women are even more alarming. 47% of transgender people have been sexually assaulted at some point in their lives. Trans people of color are even more likely to have been sexually assaulted, with American Indian (65%), multiracial (59%), Middle Eastern (58%), and Black (53%) respondents of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey the most likely to have been sexually assaulted in their lifetime.

With many other challenges facing the LGBTQ community, it is often difficult to talk about the unique ways that sexual violence impacts LGBTQ people — and the barriers that can make it difficult to get help. For LGBTQ survivors, their very identities can make it hard to access the resources (such as police, hospitals, or rape crisis centers) that are supposed to help them.

At Blackburn Center, we offer a range of services for women, children and men who have experienced violence. Our services are available to ALL, regardless of sexuality or gender identity. We offer a space place for all to seek help, with services including an emergency shelter, counseling and therapy, support groups, medical advocacy/accompaniment, legal system support, and Blackburn Center Legal. Call our hotline anytime at 724-836-1122 or 1-888-832-2272 to speak to a trained crisis counselor today.

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